BRIAN KIDD: End-of-season blues? Don’t give up on your garden yet

The golden yellow of rudbeckia at this time of year makes winter seem a long way off.
The golden yellow of rudbeckia at this time of year makes winter seem a long way off.
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I have had several letters from readers who are having problems with busy Lizzies. The symptoms are that only the stems are left on the plant. These are firm but there are no leaves or flowers. Is this a disease?

The good news is that it is not.

If it had been that dreadful downy mildew we suffered several years ago the entire batch of plants would have collapsed and all the stems would have been mushy.

No, this problem was caused by the very wet spell we had about a month ago followed by that dreadful cold, strong wind.

This can be proved if you have a batch of busy Lizzies grown in a sheltered place as they will still be fine.

During August a couple of readers wrote to me about busy Lizzies collapsing.

There were two cases of a fungal disease called phytopthora which causes collapse and complete rotting, the others were caused by vine weevils eating the roots.

At this time of year a lot of people give up on the garden, the weeds are growing like mad and everything looks as if it’s falling apart.

Don’t let this get you down as there are several things you can do to cheer the garden during autumn.

We have been deadheading the herbaceous plants in one of our borders and in some instances cutting back the stems quite hard to where there are still some buds, in particular on the tall phlox.

We feel that even if we only have a few flowers it will keep winter away for a bit longer.

In another area the golden yellow flowers on the heliopsis and rudbeckia are really cheerful.

They look great alongside aster frickartii which is a pale blue, mildew-resistant Michaelmas daisy.

Our Japanese anemones have hundreds of flowers which are pure white.

I know many people think these anemones are commonplace but they do look wonderful during the autumn.

Aster Alma Porsche, a brilliant red, is just coming into flower, a great gem to enhance any garden. Again, this one is resistant to mildew.

The finest bloomer is cosmea. Deadheaded every week, the blooms are fab!

You can buy pots of all of these gems to plant in the garden.

And remember, they will come up again year after year. They are called herbaceous perennials.

Where there was a huge gap in a border we have planted three pots of chrysanthemums.

We chose the colours we liked best, yellow, white and a bright red.

Then we found plants which had just a few flowers in bloom but still had masses of buds to come.

These have been taken out of the pots and planted in that border.

You would never know they hadn’t been there for weeks.

But the point is that this part of the border looks brill and will still be just as good in six weeks.


Before storing plastic garden furniture give it a good wash using Flash. It will bring it up like new.

Allow it to dry before covering with especially-manufactured garden furniture coverings.